Creating digital archives of 3D artworks


Marc Levoy
Hector Garcia-Molina


Recent improvements in laser rangefinder technology, together with algorithms for combining multiple range and color images, allow us to accurately digitize the external shape and surface characteristics of many physical objects. This capability makes it possible for the first time to digitize and archive substantial bodies of three-dimensional artistic and cultural artifacts, such as statues, buildings, and archeological remains.

Although the methodologies needed to create and manage digital archives of two-dimensional artifacts have matured substantially in the last ten years, the jump from two to three dimensions poses new problems. These are problems of both scale and substance, and they touch on every aspect of digital archiving: storage, indexing, searching, distribution, viewing, and piracy protection. In this pilot project, we are focusing on selected aspects of the following subproblems of this new domain:

As test data, we are using a 250 gigabyte archive we are creating of the sculptures of Michelangelo and the fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, a giant marble map of ancient Rome. The data for this archive was generated during a year-long digitization effort called the Digital Michelangelo Project. This project is supported by the National Science Foundation (Digital Libraries Initiative).

As of Summer, 2003, this pilot project has ended. One concrete outcome of the project is ScanView: a secure client / server rendering system that permits unlicensed users to examine 3D models, but not extract the underlying data. If you want to fly around our models of Michelangelo's statues but you don't qualify for a license, try this viewer. The other goals of the pilot project have been folded into our Digital Forma Urbis Project, recently funded by the NSF under the name, Solving the Puzzle of the Forma Urbis Romae.


Recent papers in this area:

Protected Interactive 3D Graphics Via Remote Rendering
David Koller, Michael Turitzin, Marc Levoy, Marco Tarini,
Giuseppe Croccia, Paolo Cignoni, Roberto Scopigno
Proc. SIGGRAPH 2004
A shortened version of this paper was the cover article in the June 2005 issue of Communications of the ACM (CACM).
Streaming QSplat: A Viewer for Networked Visualization of Large, Dense Models
Szymon Rusinkiewicz
Marc Levoy
Proc. 2001 Symposium on Interactive 3D Graphics
QSplat: A Multiresolution Point Rendering System
Szymon Rusinkiewicz
Marc Levoy
Proc. SIGGRAPH 2000

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Copyright © 2000 Marc Levoy
Last update: February 19, 2006 09:41:29 PM